Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

Scary shit. Right here. I chose to read this on a Saturday with the sun coming in through the windows and birds chirping. And then it took me longer to read than I'd expected. And then David had to leave to go home early and I was left in the house alone. And it was dark outside. 

And OH THE SCARY.

Dr. Montague invites three individuals to spend some quality time researching and experiencing Hill House. A mansion with a bad reputation. Eleanor has a history with poltergeist activity, Theo is gorgeous and it's really unclear why she's invited, and Luke is the heir to the house. 

It doesn't take long after being in the house that crazy things start to happen. And some of the researchers start to show their own brand of crazy. In all, the book takes place in just over a week's time, and it really shows off its goods in that short window of time. 

Jackson is a master of slow-build creep. I learned this when I read We Have Always Lived in the Castle, but The Haunting of Hill House seems to take things to the next level with a full-on ghost story. I wasn't really THAT scared--other books have scared me worse (The Little Stranger), but there was one instance that made me audibly gasp and think "Ugh!!!" and "EEeeek!" This one is decidedly well-done story. It would be a perfect choice for an RIP read (coming soon!), and it's definitely an accessible classic. 

Of the two Shirley Jackson books I've read recently, I did prefer We Have Always Lived in the Castle, even though I found this book scarier. The subtle creepiness and something-isn't-quite-right feeling in Castle is just stunning and still highly relatable. And I found that I felt like I knew the characters better. 

If you're lookin' for a good, ole fashioned ghost story, though, this is your book. 



Pub. Date: 1959 originally, my edition 1984
Publisher: Penguin
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9780143039983
Source: Bought it!

22 comments:

  1. I don't read a lot of scary things, but this one scared me more than any other book I've read. I first picked it up in 6th grade and the creepiness of it has stayed with me.

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    1. It was some serious scary. For me, the psychological is always REALLY scary, and this took a step beyond the psychological to full-on haunted. The combo was a good one.

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  2. I've considered reading this book so many times, but chicken out, because I'm scared of reading ghost stories! :)

    I'm glad you enjoyed it and kudos to you for reading it when you're alone at home!

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    1. It's pretty damn scary. Not gonna lie. However, because there is an element of unreliability, that takes a bit of the edge off.

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  3. Yes - I am looking for a good old fashioned ghost story so thanks for the recommendation :-)

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    1. This is the ONE! I hope you love it.

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  4. A classic! I've read it many times and love it more each time I read it.

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    1. It's so damn good. I don't know how many times I'll read it (because I'm a chicken). I wanted to keep it in the freezer at times (Friends reference!).

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  5. Such a great ghost story book, not in a screamy way, but yeah, in a slow-building atmosphere way. I love how the house is at weird angles and the rooms are strange and impossible to find (reminds me, oh I just thought of this, it reminds me of the hotel in Deep Secret), and how the housekeeper keeps saying those weird nonsequitur things she always say. Ahhhh Shirley Jackson! Why did she leave us with so few novels!

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    1. No, not a screamy way, but there was some heart-pounding ick. Hand holding. 'Nuff said. I do love that about the house's angles and rooms being just a touch off. Very maze'ish and cool. And yes! The housekeeper didn't help a lot with the creepy. lol Indeed. I want to read everything Jackson has written...memoirs and all.

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  6. I'm thinking about rereading this one for RIP.

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    1. Do it! Because it's the shiz.

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  7. Is this like nightmare scary? I'm a chicken!

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    1. Ummm, depends. It's psychological, but it's pretty clear there are entities at work. It's a good ole fashioned ghost story.

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  8. That sounds like what I know of Jackson. I remember reading her in high school and loving her stuff. I wonder if she is still read in huh schools now?

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    1. I think her short story, "The Lottery" is still commonly read and anthologized. Not sure about anything longer. I didn't know about those until later on. I'll have to ask some of my young relatives. lol

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  9. I didn't fall in love with We Have Always Lived in the Castle, but I can't recall why. I did love her writing, though, and bought the anthology of Shirley Jackson's short stories entitled "Lottery". Wow, that was fascinating. They're all so very different and quite deep - lots to talk about. I just recently put The Haunting of Hill House on my wish list. It seems to be a popular RIP title.

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    1. Her writing is so good. She could write the phone book and I'd read it. Definitely want to read more of her short stories. It's a perfect RIP read!

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  10. I really enjoyed The Haunting of Hill House. I think the scariest part for me was when Theo and Eleanor were both in the bedroom and heard the noises outside their door and in the hallway. Just the way Jackson set up and describe that scene was hair-raising.

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    1. YES!!! It got my hackles all up, I tell you! So freaky.

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  11. Oooh, I have this one on my TBR. Think I need to bump it up a bit. Sounds great!

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  12. I'm going to read this for RIP - note to self: only during the daylight hours!

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